|Grandmaster Kang Shin Chul (right) and myself.|
Grandmaster Kang is a WTF Taekwondo practitioner so my reaction to his form is somewhat mixed, particularly because while I recognise some iconic WTF-style pattern motions, this form is hardly typical of WTF patterns. It is, as I wrote somewhere else, much too flamboyant. Then again, that is part of Grandmaster Kang's character. However, I'm referring to more than just the outfit. I'm more specifically referring to the fluidity and flow, to the ample circular motions, of his pattern, which doesn't reflect even the high level WTF patterns; see for example Ilyo, one of the highest WTF patterns.
Grandmaster Kang's pattern reminds me far more of Taekkyeon patterns than of WTF Taekwondo patterns; consider, for example, these forms by three Taekkyeon grandmasters:
While I see resemblances, what Grandmaster Kang is doing is definitely not Taekkyeon. He is combining rigid WTF fundamental strikes with fluid WTF kicks to create a new form that is maybe more reflective of how WTF is performed in reality. Think about WTF demonstrations: what one often see is the flashy spinning kicks with hardly any hand techniques, rather than the karatesque WTF patterns. So maybe Grandmaster Kang is presenting us with a more authentic WTF, than what we typically see in the WTF patterns.
The white colour and long sleeves of Grandmaster Kang's hanbok does remind me somewhat of the jangsam robe worn by seungmu dancers. Traditionally the seungmu dance was performed by Korean Buddhist monks. I'm not sure, but this may be part of his inspiration.
As an outsider (I'm not a WTF practitioner), it is, to be honest, difficult for me to reconcile my stereotypical expectation of a WTF pattern and the creative form Grandmaster Kang demonstrated at the banquet. Then again, as a grandmaster he is at liberty to perform his martial art whichever way he likes. After all, if it is truly a martial art, there must be room for artistic expression. And as one Taekkyeon grandmaster told me, "Because we live in a civilized society, people don't train in Taekkyeon to learn self-defence, but to enjoy it" (rough paraphrase). The same is most likely true for WTF in South Korea. Since people don't train in WTF Taekwondo in Korea for self-defence purposes there is really no reason why the patterns ought to have practical application. They could just function as a type of "martial dance", and that would be a good description for Grandmaster Kang's pattern, wouldn't it?